KLEINZEE, Northern Cape (miningweekly.com) – The submission of an application to government for the transfer of ownership of Namaqualand diamond mines to Trans Hex is imminent.
De Beers corporate finance manager Andrew Henwood, who spoke to a visiting media contingent, says that the application - made under Section 11 of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act - is expected to be submitted to the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) this week or next.
JSE-listed Trans Hex signed an agreement to acquire the Namaqualand diamond mines from De Beers Consolidated Mines in May and announced in August that near-mine communities would also have a share in the asset through a trust fund.
The complex R225-million cash deal, which has received unconditional competition authority approval, involves seven mining rights and one prospecting right, which extends from the Northern Cape province into the adjoining Western Cape province.
An amended environmental management plan will be submitted with the Section 11 application.
The Namaqualand asset is South Africa’s largest alluvial diamond resource, and Trans Hex is acquiring it through a 50%-held joint venture company, Emerald Panther Investments.
The DMR has yet to determine the environmental rehabilitation liability that will transfer to the Trans Hex consortium.
In the meantime, Trans Hex is contributing R10-million towards rehabilitation, on which De Beers has already spent R101-million since August 2007.
“Even during the downturn, we were spending R35-million a year on rehab,” Henwood reports.
In areas requiring earthmoving, the cost of rehabilitation has been as high as R100 000/ha.
Mining has disturbed a small percentage of the 256 000 ha of De Beers ground and where there is farming, only one animal for every ten hectares is permitted.
De Beers is supporting an impressive array of planned and already-emerging economic projects, including wind farms, abalone farms, oyster farms and tourism initiatives, on the property, which is the size of Luxembourg.
Trans Hex has committed itself to honouring De Beers’ lease of land to South African National Parks and refutes “unsubstantiated allegations" that it has a poor rehabilitation record at its Hondeklipbaai diamond operation, which it says it is continuing to maintain.